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NCIS Review: Misdirection and Wrong Assumptions

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Once again, we were treated to a couple of fascinating parallel plots in tonight's episode of NCIS, "Hereafter."

In the crime story, the team was called to investigate the mysterious death of a marine who perished during training at Quantico. Turns out he died as a result of cerebral hemorrhaging, due to repeated blows to the head. 

The team was provided some misdirection as a result of the discovery that the dead marine had participated in a fight club. Later it was learned that their commanding officer had been attempting to toughen his team up by wounding them repeatedly - basically, torturing them - in the same manner as his brother, who had died from his injuries.

At the Crime Scene (NCIS)

The more personal story involved Leon Vance, who discovered that his wife had kept a separate bank account and a legal "separation of property" letter; he found them inside a safety deposit box that he didn't know about.

Of course, the immediate conclusion he came to - and by extension, the viewer - was that she was getting ready to separate from him prior to her death. The agony of that assumption was plain to see, as he tried to ensure his kids continued with their lives. He even went back to work while harboring that painful secret.

The writers did a great job with Vance's character, portraying him as a brittle and proud man who felt the need to shield his kids and everyone else from his anguish. It seemed sad to me when his daughter offered to help him sort papers and he declined, telling her that they needed to get into the kitchen and eat some breakfast. Or when his son asked him when he was going back to work, only to be told to get ready, because the car was leaving in 20 minutes. 

It would have been better for him to have let them in, allow them to grieve along with him - but that wouldn't have been Vance, would it? It would have been someone else entirely. The truly bright spot occurred when Vance returned home after solving the crime, only to find his kids shrieking with laughter as Tony and Ziva chased them around the house. They needed that, he said. And he was right about that, just as he needed to smile at their laughter.

And how about that exchange between Tony and Ziva just as they got to Vance's house to babysit?  The excruciating grimace on Tony's face was hilarious: he was truly horrified at the thought of being around them. Then this happened:

Ziva: DiNozzo, pull it together.
Tony: Kids. This is way above my pay grade. I spent the afternoon in a child care clinic when I almost lost my life.
Ziva: Stop stop stop stop. We're doing the director a favor, okay? We just need to be here, we need to be normal. Can you just please do that for a few hours?
Tony: Sure. Fine.
Ziva: Fine.
Tony: Only because you asked nicely. | permalink

Did you catch the laugh and smile they gave each other after that? Interesting to say the least, as was the fact that they both got into playing with the kids.

I liked the fact that Ziva finally had a brief heart to heart with Vance about the death of his wife. The beautiful/tender tension between them was portrayed so well by Cote de Pablo and Rocky Carroll. There was some great acting there.

The compelling conclusion tied up Vance's story nicely, with Gibbs making him realize that Jackie was merely preparing her kids and herself for a time when Vance wouldn't be around. The key point involved the fact that she started preparing around the time the NCIS building was bombed (end of NCIS Season 9 and the beginning of NCIS Season 10.)

I have to say: the writing, the directing and the acting on the show are stellar. Hardly a wrong note anywhere. If there is to be any criticism, it would be the idea of Tony continuing to be the clown and not evolving more and more into the strong watchful Tony we saw in "Shiva." Maybe it's time for someone else to play the clown for a while.  Deputy Directory Craig might fit that role, or Palmer.

Some final thoughts:

  • It was good to see Abby, even if only for a little bit, as she had at least one great line from the NCIS quotes of the evening: You could totally rock an eye patch Gibbs. And that's not important. | permalink
  • Missing from the picture entirely was Jimmy Palmer  He wasn't in either of the autopsy scenes. What's up with that?

So, what did you think of this episode? Did you see any plots holes? How do you think Deputy Director Craig will leave? Or will he?

UPDATE:

Steve Marsi has set up this week's round table to discuss this episode.  We're stumped about whatever it is Gibbs is building in his basement.  Come on over and check it out.  It's here:  NCIS round table.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (284 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe is a staff writer for TV Fanatic Follow him on Twitter

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I didn't care for it. I just don't like Vance's eps. Boring. I liked Ziva/Tony bit with the kids and I did enjoy the talk between Vance and Ziva, but as a whole, I could have missed the ep and not felt like I lost anything. Also, why would Jackie need a lawyer to DIVIDE property if she was just preparing for a situation where Vance died? That part did not make sense. Anyway, just a so so ep for me.

Marissa

Great episode. It doesn't look like the deputy director will be staying much longer. It was funny seeing tony chasing the kids around with a pizza box on his head and it being cut to look like teeth an having Vance walk in and his son saying tony let us watch jaws. Abby telling Gibbs he could work an eye patch was great. Can't wait till the next episode it looks like we get a lot more jimmy.

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Yes, the pizza box/shark thing cracked me up! Totally DiNozzo! Him and Ziva having so much fun was refreshing! Great episode. Loved it when Vance asked Gibbs if he would ever tell him what he was building in the basement- and Gibbs said 'no'- classic. The two characters are bonded by the deaths of their wives. Rocky Carroll is a great character- fits in well with the cast. Hope he's a 'keeper'. And I agree with everyone else- McGee- get some decent clothes! You are no longer a probie. Thanks for a wonderful show, actors, writers and director. I've been watching since day one and don't miss an episode!

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Overall I enjoyed this episode. If it hasn't been for the humor, the episode would just have been a yawn this week for me. Next weeks is gonna be interesting!! I personally loved the part where Tony was chasing those kids around the house with that pizza hat on his head. I died laughing for 30 mins!!
It's nice to know that Vance now understands Gibbs better. Although I'm not a big Vance fan at all, I do hope he comes back to NCIS headquarters. Can't stand that other turtle guy they have there!

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Wonderful episode. I understand how Jackie was thinking. And I think she acted in a good way. She couldn't tell her husband. I'm glad Gibbs was able to help him. I hope Vance comes back soon the new guy is a pussy.

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Good review and great episode, as always....it's the comments that are weird! The murder story was intriguing and well played....would have liked to see what the Captain would have been charged with -- understand toughening up his team for war, but a lot of PTST there and deaths are not an excuse! However, it sort of ran parallel to Vance's dilemma. Loved Gibbs gentle 'solving' or understanding Vance's angst by sharing some of his own. As a military wife totally understand where Jackie and Shanon were coming from. He is such a gentle soul with all his co-workers. It was not Abby or Palmer's night. Two plots running need not have 100% of the team present (besides their own personal life off-camera may have prevented their time on-camera -- neither was cruical to the storylines!) As for Tony's antics...it's been 11 years -- Tony is Tony, granted childish at times, but always there as big brother (or more) when needed.

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surprised Ziva hasn't gone after the Israeli traitor that planned the deaths of her father and the other man. Nothing about the other country's responce about their man's death? Nothing about either or did I miss it somehow?
on another note I still think Gibbs should hook up with Frank's daughter-in-law. That way he would have someone and a little girl.

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Just realised I ran out of space, was going to add: What's happened to all the cool designer suits and smart casuals? I'm half expecting Tony to turn up in a pipe and slippers! And yes what is it with McGee wearing outdoor jackets in the office? Having problems with the heating system? I love the show, the cast is fantastic, just think the writers can do better.

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Kind of a yawn...they can't all be great! Did like that Gibbs logically solved Leon's dilemma!

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@julia64 Glad you mentioned wardrobe. It has seemed to me that McGee's always wearing the same (outdoor?) jacket with jeans and a different shirt. What happened to khaki's, an occasional tie, sports coats?